Amos 2:1
Thus said the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
II.

CURSE ON MOAB.

(1) Comp. Isaiah 15, 16, Isaiah 25:10-12, and Jeremiah 48 Translate “burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.” The historical reference is obscure. (See 2Kings 3:26-27.) Whether Moab was guilty of desecrating royal tombs, or offering the heir of the king of Edom in sacrifice, cannot be determined. When Moab took revenge upon Edom, the latter was subject to Jehoram.

Amos 2:1-3. For three transgressions of Moab — Moab and Ammon being nearly related, (see Genesis 19:37,) and bordering upon each other, they are usually joined together in the threatenings of the prophets. Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime — To plaster the walls of his house with it, as the Chaldee paraphrase explains the text, which was most ungenerously and cruelly insulting over the dead. A like story is told by Sir Paul Rycaut (Present State of the Greek Church, chap. 2.) of the walls of the city Philadelphia, made of the bones of the besieged, by the prince that took it by storm. I will send a fire upon Moab — Moab was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 27:3; Jeremiah 27:6. It shall devour the palaces of Kirioth — A principal city of this country. And Moab shall die with tumult — The Moabites shall be destroyed in the tumult of war. And I will cut off the judge in the midst thereof — Probably the chief magistrate or king is intended.2:1-8 The evil passions of the heart break out in various forms; but the Lord looks to our motives, as well as our conduct. Those that deal cruelly, shall be cruelly dealt with. Other nations were reckoned with for injuries done to men; Judah is reckoned with for dishonour done to God. Judah despised the law of the Lord; and he justly gave them up to strong delusion; nor was it any excuse for their sin, that they were the lies, the idols, after which their fathers walked. The worst abominations and most grievous oppressions have been committed by some of the professed worshippers of the Lord. Such conduct leads many to unbelief and vile idolatry.Moab - The relation of Moab to Israel is only accidentally different from that of Ammon. One spirit actuated both, venting itself in one and the same way, as occasion served, and mostly together (see the note at Amos 1:13). Beside those more formal invasions, the history of Elisha mentions one probably of many in-roads of "bands of the Moabites." It seems as though, when "the year entered in," and with it the harvest, "the bands of the Moabites entered in" too, like "the Midianites and Amalekites and the children of the east" Judges 6:3-4, Judges 6:11 in the time of Gideon, or their successors the Bedouins, now. This their continual hostility is related in the few words of a parenthesis. There was no occasion to relate at length an uniform hostility, which was as regular as the seasons of the year, and the year's produce, and the temptation to the cupidity of Moab, when Israel was weakened by Hazael.

Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom - The deed here condemned, is unknown. Doubtless it was connected with that same hatred of Edom, which the king of Moab showed, when besieged by Israel. People are often more enraged against a friend or ally who has made terms with one whom they hate or fear, than with the enemy himself. Certainly, "when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him" 2 Kings 3:26-27, his fury was directed personally against the king of Edom. He "took with him" 700 chosen men "to cut through to the king of Edom, and they could not." Escape was not their object. They sought not "to cut through" the Edomite contingent into the desert, but "to the king of Edom." Then "he took his oldest son," that is, probably the oldest son of the king of Edom whom he captured, "and offered him up as a burnt offering on the wall."

Such is the simplest structure of the words; He "strove to cut through to the king of Edom, and they could not, and he took his oldest son, etc., and there was great indignation against Israel." That "indignation" too on the part of Edom (for there was no other to be indignant "against Israel") is best accounted for, if this expedition, undertaken because Moab had rebelled against Israel, had occasioned the sacrifice of the son of the king of Edom, who took part in it only as a tributary of Judah. Edom would have had no special occasion to be indignant with Israel, if on occasion of an ordinary siege, the king of Moab had, in a shocking way, performed the national idolatry of child-sacrifice. That hatred the king of Moab carried beyond the grave, hatred which the pagan too held to be unnatural in its implacableness and unsatiableness. The soul being, after death, beyond man's reach, the hatred, vented upon his remains, is a sort of impotent grasping at eternal vengeance.

It wreaks on what it knows to be insensible, the hatred with which it would pursue, if it could, the living being who is beyond it. Its impotence evinces its fierceness, since, having no power to wreak any real revenge, it has no object but to show its hatred. Hatred, which death cannot extinguish, is the beginning of the eternal hate in hell. With this hatred Moab hated the king of Edom, seemingly because he had been, though probably against this will, on the side of the people of God. It was then sin against the love of God, and directed against God Himself. The single instance, which we know, of any feud between Moab and Edom was, when Edom was engaged in a constrained service of God. At least there are no indications of any conquest of each other. The Bozrah of Moab, being in the Mishor, "the plain" Jeremiah 48:21, Jeremiah 48:24, is certainly distinct from the Bozrah of Edom, which Jeremiah speaks of at the same time, as belonging to Edom Jeremiah 49:13. Each kingdom, Edom and Moab, had its own strong city, Bozrah, at one and the same time. And if "the rock," which Isaiah speaks of as the strong hold of Moab Isaiah 16:1, was indeed the Petra of Edom, (and the mere name, in that country of rock-fortresses is not strong, yet is the only, proof,) they won it from Judah who had taken it from Edom, and in whose hands it remained in the time of Amos (2 Kings 14:7; see above the note at Amos 1:12), not from Edom itself. Or, again, the tribute "may" have been only sent through Petra, as the great center of commerce. Edom's half-service gained it no good, but evil; Moab's malice was its destruction.

The proverb, "speak good only of the dead," shows what reverence human nature dictates, not to condemn those who have been before their Judge, unless He have already openly condemned them. "Death," says Athanasius in relating the death of Arius on his perjury, "is the common end of all people, and we ought not to insult the dead, though he be an enemy, for it is uncertain whether the same event may not happen to ourselves before evening."

CHAPTER 2

Am 2:1-16. Charges against Moab, Judah, and Lastly Israel, the Chief Subject of Amos' Prophecies.

1. burned … bones of … king of Edom into lime—When Jehoram of Israel, Jehoshaphat of Judah, and the king of Edom, combined against Mesha king of Moab, the latter failing in battle to break through to the king of Edom, took the oldest son of the latter and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall (2Ki 3:27) [Michaelis]. Thus, "king of Edom" is taken as the heir to the throne of Edom. But "his son" is rather the king of Moab's own son, whom the father offered to Molech [Josephus, Antiquities, 9.3]. Thus the reference here in Amos is not to that fact, but to the revenge which probably the king of Moab took on the king of Edom, when the forces of Israel and Judah had retired after their successful campaign against Moab, leaving Edom without allies. The Hebrew tradition is that Moab in revenge tore from their grave and burned the bones of the king of Edom, the ally of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, who was already buried. Probably the "burning of the bones" means, "he burned the king of Edom alive, reducing his very bones to lime" [Maurer].God’s judgments upon Moab, Amos 2:1-3 upon Judah, Amos 2:4,5, and upon Israel, Amos 2:6-8. God complaineth of Israel’s ingratitude for past kindnesses, and threateneth them for it, Amos 2:9-16.

For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof: in this form the prophet began, Amos 1:3, which see. Here he doth threaten a nation of some kin to Israel, &c., as was Ammon, and almost as much an enemy: they appeared early enemies to Israel, and took most wicked ways to ruin Israel; first hired Balaam to curse them, Numbers 22 Num 23; when this did not succeed, he next acts a vile part, and by lewd harlots draws Israel to sin, Numbers 25:1,2, &c., that so he might do against sinful Israel what could not be done against innocent Israel. Moab also was the second oppressor of Israel, who for their sins were delivered into the hands of Eglon king of Moab, who oppressed them eighteen years, Judges 3:14; for which, and other hostile carriages, they are here threatened; yet their inhuman cruelty to Edom’s king is only expressed, the other hostilities to Israel are implied.

He; the king of Moab; who particularly this was is not here nor elsewhere mentioned, though some say it was Mesha, and refer this to 2 Kings 3:4; yet it is not very likely that this was the king who acted such cruelty.

Burned the bones; it had been barbarous to have burned the flesh and nerves of an enemy, but to make the fire so hot, and continue it so long, as to burn bones into ashes, is much more barbarous.

Of the king of Edom: this somewhat aggravates the cruelty, he was no common man, but a king, who was so used: his name, and the time when it was done, whether it were some king alive or dead, and his bones digged up, is not mentioned, but every way it was barbarous, though it were done to bones digged out of the grave, as some conjecture.

Into lime, or ashes, calcined the bones, reduced them by fire into fine dust, and (as others conjecture) used these ashes instead of lime to plaster the walls and roofs of his palace; and this was done in hatred and contempt of the king of Edom.

Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions of Moab,.... Or the Moabites, who descended from the eldest son of Lot, by one of his daughters; and, though related, were great enemies to the Israelites; they sent for Balaam to curse them when on their borders, and greatly oppressed them in the times of the judges:

and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; See Gill on Amos 1:3. Idolatry, as well as the sin next charged, must be one of these four transgressions: the idols of Moab were Chemosh and Baalpeor; of the former See Gill on Jeremiah 48:7; and of the latter See Gill on Hosea 9:10;

because he burnt the bones of the king of Edom into lime; either like "to lime", or "for lime"; he burnt them thoroughly, till they came to powder as small and as white as lime, and used them instead of it to plaster the walls of his palace, by way of contempt, as the Targum; and so Jarchi and Kimchi: this is thought probable by Quinquarboreus (m), for which he is blamed by Sanctius, who observes, there is no foundation for it in Scripture; and that the ashes of the bones of one man would not be sufficient to plaster a wall; and, besides, could never be brought to such a consistence as to be fit for such a purpose; yet, if it only means bare burning them, so as that they became like lime, as the colour of it, it could not be thought so very barbarous and inhuman, since it was the usage of some nations, especially the Romans, to burn their dead: no doubt something shocking is intended, and which usage to the dead is resented by the Lord. Sir Paul Rycaut (n) relates a piece of barbarity similar to this, that the city of Philadelphia was built with the bones of the besieged, by the prince that took it by storm. Kimchi thinks, as other interpreters also do, that it refers to the history in 2 Kings 3:27; where the king of Moab is said to offer his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead for a burnt offering; which he understands, not of the king of Moab's son, but of the king of Edom's son, here called a king, because he was to have succeeded his father in the kingdom; but it seems rather to be the king of Moab's own son that he offered; nor is it likely that the king of Edom's son was in his lands; for he would have broke through into the king of Edom, but could not; and then did this rash action; not in wrath and fury, but in a religious way. The prophet here refers to some fact, notorious in those times, the truth of which is not to be questioned, though we have no other account of it in Scripture; very probably it was the same king of Moab that did it, and the same king of Edom that was so used, mentioned in the above history; the king of Moab being enraged at him for joining with the kings of Israel and Judah against him, who afterwards falling into his hands, he used him in this barbarous manner; or very likely being possessed of his country after his death, or however of his grave, he took him out of it, and burnt his bones to lime, in revenge of what he had done to him. This was a very cruel action thus to use a human body, and this not the body of a private person, but of a king; and was an act of impiety, as well as of inhumanity, to take the bones of the dead out of his grave, and burn them; and which though done to a Heathen prince. God, who is the Creator of all, and Governor of the whole world, and whose vicegerents princes are, resented; and therefore threatened the Moabites with utter destruction for it.

(m) Scholia in Targum in loc. (n) The Present State of the Greek Church, c. 2.

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the {a} bones of the king of Edom into lime:

(a) For the Moabites were so cruel against the King of Edom, that they burnt his bones after he was dead: which declared their barbarous rage, that they would avenge themselves upon the dead.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. because he burnt the bones of the king of Edom into lime] A mark of unrelenting hate and vindictiveness: the Moabites pursued their fallen adversary even into the rest of the grave; they not only violated the sanctity of his tomb, but even removed his bones, and treated them with an unwonted and shocking indignity (cf. 2 Kings 23:16). The reverence with which, in ancient times, the tomb was regarded, is well known: and ancient sepulchral inscriptions often invoke terrible maledictions upon those who disturb the remains deposited within[141]. The prophet displays a high-souled superiority to distinctions of race: he reprobates an indignity offered to Israel’s rival not less sternly than one offered to Israel itself. In illustration of the fact, Wellhausen quotes the Kitâb al-’Aghâni xii. 21, 11; Ibn Athir v. 178. 12, 203. 23; Maç. v. 471. Nothing further is known of the deed referred to: it may be conjectured to have been one of recent occurrence which sent a thrill of horror through all who heard of it. The Edomites were neighbours of Moab not less than of Judah; and perhaps similar rivalries were prevalent between them. On the occasion of the joint expedition undertaken by Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom, for the purpose of coercing the Moabites to obedience, after their revolt under Mesha, the Moabite king is represented (2 Kings 3:26) as actuated by a peculiar animosity against the king of Edom. According to Jerome, it was a Hebrew tradition that this was the king whose bones, after burial, were treated for vengeance in this manner.

[141] Comp. the quotation in the note on v.9; and see also the inscription from el ‘Olâ (S.E. of Edom) translated in Studia Biblica, vol. i. p. 212 (= Euting, Nabatäische Inschriften, 1885. No. 2: see also Nos. 3, 4).

Amos 2:1-3. Moab. The Moabites inhabited the elevated and fertile table-land (Heb. Mîshôr, “level plain,” Deuteronomy 3:10 &c.), on the east of the Dead Sea. By the Israelites, the deep chasm formed by the torrent Arnon was regarded as the northern boundary of Moab: for shortly before Israel’s arrival on the east of Jordan, Sihon, king of the Amorites, had forced the Moabites to retire from their possessions north of the Arnon; and the Israelites, defeating Sihon, occupied his territory, which was afterwards allotted to the pastoral tribe of Reuben (Numbers 21:24-25; Numbers 32:37 f.). Reuben, however, was not strong enough to retain possession of the region thus assigned to it; and hence many of the cities mentioned in Joshua 13:15-21, as belonging to Reuben, are alluded to by Isaiah (ch. 15, 16), and other later writers, as in the occupation of Moab. Moab, like the Ammonites, was subdued by David (2 Samuel 8:1-2), though it must have recovered its independence, probably at the division of the kingdom. From the Inscription of Mesha (2 Kings 3:4), found in 1869 at Dibon, and known commonly as the ‘Moabite Stone,’ we learn that Omri re-subjugated Moab, but that during the reign of his son Ahab it revolted, and regained its independence (cf. 2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:5). The Inscription states particulars of the revolt: Mesha, for instance, expelled the men of Gad from ‘Aṭârôth, took Něbo by storm, and rebuilt (or fortified) the principal cities of Moab (see a translation of the Inscription in R.P[139][140] ii.194 ff., or in the present writer’s Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel, p. lxxxv ff.). The language of Moab differed only dialectically from Hebrew. From the allusions in the O.T. the Moabites appear to have been a wealthy and prosperous people, hardly inferior in civilization to Israel itself. The abundant vineyards of Moab are noticed by Isaiah (Isaiah 16:8-10): the fertility of its pastures may be inferred from the large tribute of wool paid annually to Israel before its revolt (2 Kings 3:4; cf. Isaiah 16:1). The prophets allude to the independent, encroaching temper shewn by Moab in its relations with Israel (Isaiah 16:6; Zephaniah 2:10; Jeremiah 48:29; Jeremiah 48:42): no doubt attempts were frequently made by the Moabites to gain possession of the cities claimed by Reuben or Gad.

[139] .P.Records of the Past, first and second series, respectively.

[140] … Records of the Past, first and second series, respectively.Verses 1-3. - Judgment on Moab. Verse 1. - Moab. The prophet now denounces the other nation connected by ties of blood with Israel (see on Amos 1:13). Moab's hostility had been shown in the hiring of Balsam to curse the Israelites, and in seducing them to idolatry (Numbers 22-25:3). He was their oppressor in the time of the Judges (Judges 3:12); and David had to take most stringent measures against him (2 Samuel 8:2). The Moabites joined in a league against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:22), and later against Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:2), and, as we see by the inscription on the Moabite Stone, were always ready to profit by the disasters or weakness of the chosen people. "I erected this stone," says Mesha, "to Chemosh at Kirkha, a stone of salvation, for he saved me from all despoilers, and made me see my desire upon all mine enemies, even upon Omri, King of Israel." And then he goes on to recount his victories. He burned the bones of the King of Edom into lime. This profanation of the corpse of the King of Edom (see 2 Kings 23:16; Jeremiah 8:1, 2) is not mentioned in the historical books. Some of the older commentators, as Tirinus and Corn. a Lapide, think that the prophet wishes to show that the sympathy of God extends beyond the covenant people, and that he punishes wrongs inflicted even on heathen nations. But as in the case of the other nations, Amos reproves only crimes committed against Israel or Judah, so the present outrage must have the same connection. The reference to the King of Moab's sacrifice of "his eldest son," even if we suppose (which is improbable) the son of the King of Edom to be meant, is plainly inapplicable (2 Kings 3:27), as the offence regarded the king himself, and not his son, and the expression, "burned into lime," can hardly be thought to refer to a human sacrifice. The act mentioned probably occurred during the time that the Edomites joined Jehoram and Jehoshaphat in the league against Mesha, the King of Moab (2 Kings 3:7, 9), the author of the inscription on the celebrated stone erected by him at Dibon. Unfortunately, the last lines of that inscription, describing the war against the Edomites, are lost. The paragraph that remains is this: "And Chemosh said to me, Go down, make war against Horonaim [i.e. the men of Edom], and take... Chemosh... in my days. Wherefore I made... year ... and I..." The Jewish tradition, quoted by Jerome, tells that after this war the Moabites, in revenge for the assistance which the King of Edom had given to the Israelites, dug up and dishonoured his bones. Edom was then in vassalage to Israel, but regained its independence some ten years later (2 Kings 8:20). The sacrilegious act was meant to redound to the disgrace of Israel The thoughts of Hosea 10:2, Hosea 10:3 are carried out still further in Hosea 10:4-7. Hosea 10:4. "They have spoken words, sworn falsely, made treaties: thus right springs up like darnel in the furrows of the field. Hosea 10:5. For the calves of Beth-aven the inhabitants of Samaria were afraid: yea, its people mourn over it, and its sacred ministers will tremble at it, at its glory, because it has strayed from them. Hosea 10:6. Men will also carry it to Asshur, as a present for king Jareb: shame will seize upon Ephraim, and Israel will be put to shame for its counsel." The dissimulation of heart (Hosea 10:3) manifested itself in their speaking words which were nothing but words, i.e., in vain talk (cf. Isaiah 58:13), in false swearing, and in the making of treaties. אלות, by virtue of the parallelism, is an infin. abs. for אלה, formed like כּרת, analogous to שׁתות (Isaiah 22:13; see Ewald, 240, b). כּרת בּרית, in connection with false swearing, must signify the making of a covenant without any truthfulness in it, i.e., the conclusion of treaties with foreign nations - for example, with Assyria - which they were inclined to observe only so long as they could promise themselves advantages from them. In consequence of this, right has become like a bitter plant growing luxuriantly (ראשׁ equals רושׁ; see at Deuteronomy 29:17). Mishpât does not mean judgment here, or the punitive judgment of God (Chald. and many others), for this could hardly be compared with propriety to weeds running over everything, but right in its degeneracy into wrong, or right that men have turned into bitter fruit or poison (Amos 6:12). This spreads about in the kingdom, as weeds spread luxuriantly in the furrows of the field (שׂדי a poetical form for שׂדה, like Deuteronomy 32:13; Psalm 8:8). Therefore the judgment cannot be delayed, and is already approaching in so threatening a manner, that the inhabitants of Samaria tremble for the golden calves. The plural ‛eglōth is used with indefinite generality, and gives no warrant, therefore, for the inference that there were several golden calves set up in Bethel. Moreover, this would be at variance with the fact, that in the sentences which follow we find "the (one) calf" spoken of. The feminine form ‛eglōth, which only occurs here, is also probably connected with the abstract use of the plural, inasmuch as the feminine is the proper form for abstracts. Bēth-'âven for Bēth-'ēl, as in Hosea 4:15. Shâkhēn is construed with the plural, as an adjective used in a collective sense. כּי (Hosea 4:5) is emphatic, and the suffixes attached to עמּו and כּמריו do not refer to Samaria, but to the idol, i.e., the calf, since the prophet distinctly calls Israel, which ought to have been the nation of Jehovah, the nation of its calf-idol, which mourned with its priests (kemârı̄m, the priests appointed in connection with the worship of the calves: see at 2 Kings 23:5) for the carrying away of the calf to Assyria. גּיל does not mean to exult or rejoice here, nor to tremble (applied to the leaping of the heart from fear, as it does from joy), but has the same meaning as חיל in Psalm 96:9. עליו is still further defined by על־כּבודו, "for its glory," i.e., not for the temple-treasure at Bethel (Hitzig), nor the one glorious image of the calf, as the symbol of the state-god (Ewald, Umbreit), but the calf, to which the people attributed the glory of the true God. The perfect, gâlâh, is used prophetically of that which was as good as complete and certain (for the fut. exact., cf. Ewald, 343, a). The golden calf, the glory of the nation, will have to wander into exile. This cannot even save itself; it will be taken to Assyria, to king Jareb (see at Hosea 5:13), as minchâh, a present of tribute (see 2 Samuel 8:2, 2 Samuel 8:6; 1 Kings 5:1). For the construing of the passive with את, see Ges. 143, 1, a. Then will Ephraim ( equals Israel) be seized by reproach and shame. Boshnâh, a word only met with here; it is formed from the masculine bōshen, which is not used at all (see Ewald, 163, 164).
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